Getting travel search right on a mobile phone is tough. Thankfully Hipmunk, for the most part, has nailed it.
Now Hipmunk is giving those mobile apps a big upgrade: they now both support hotel search (which the web version of the service launched back in March). You can download the new iOS app for iPhone and iPad right here, and the new Android app here.
As with the apps’ flight search, the new feature is both straightforward and good-looking. Tap the ‘Hotel’ button from the main screen, and you’ll see a map with your GPS dot at the center (by default it looks for hotels near your current location, though you can easily swap it to another city). Enter the dates you’re planning to book and the app will start searching, with small orbs appearing on the map to represent each hotel. The app will color these orbs when possible to indicate the price — green means cheap, blue, average, and red, pricey. Tapping on an orb will bring up reviews from TripAdvisor and key details about the hotel.
And you’ve got more options. The app will let you overlay various heatmaps on top of the map of hotels, which indicate the density of food options in the vicinity, sights to see, or, the all-important Vice. You can also sort by hotel price, and if you’re partial to a particular chain, you can sort by that too.
Unfortunately, there’s still one hiccup in the process: Hipmunk won’t let you actually complete a booking via its app — once you’ve chosen a hotel, it hands you off to a service like Orbitz to complete the transaction (it’s easy to tell, because the experience suddenly gets way uglier). And if you’d prefer, the mobile app will provide you with a special passphrase that can be used at Hipmunk.com/finish/ to complete the booking next time you’re at a PC.